Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama’s Clove ban creates crisis in the Emerging Church

Obama’s Clove ban creates crisis in the Emerging Church

“I just ordered some from Indonesia,” declares Shawn Hopkins of Tampa, Emerging churcher, hoping to stock up for the weekend. Beyond that he is not sure of his plans.

Shawn is among thousands of young, “Emerging” Christians shocked by the FDA’s ban on flavored cigarettes which went into effect on Tuesday, September 22. “I was fine with the ban until I went to the store today and found out cloves actually contain tobacco and have been pulled from the shelves along with those goofy vanilla and tropical fruit flavors,” Atlanta's Troy Bronsink tells us, “but, then I find out they included my precious cloves. I took a deep breath and almost decided to buy a pack of menthols out of spite before storming out of the store.”

Dr. Tony Jones, former National Coordinator for Emergent, pipe aficionado and a non-clove smoker, tells us that this is a dark day for Emergent and the Emerging church. He hopes it can survive this latest tragedy. “This is much worse than the day Mark Driscoll questioned the sexuality of Doug Pagitt and challenged Brian McLaren to a cage match. In fact, it ranks up there with the day I had to move to New Jersey to work on my PhD at Princeton or that week in July, 2008 when it looked like Obama might not become president.”

According to many sources, young emerging Christians need some safe way to rebel. They are not interested in experimenting with drugs, promiscuous sex or even real cigarettes, so they have chosen microbrew beer, R-rated movies, Coldplay and cloves. It makes them feel rebellious as they question their parents’ belief system, but they don’t have to go too far down the road of dangerous behavior or real rock-n-roll music.

“Our questioning of atonement theories and the inspiration of Scripture are enough. We don’t want to be branded as practitioners of dangerous theology and dangerous activity. We just want something to do while we are standing around outside, something that doesn’t smell as bad as cigars,” says Tripp Fuller, a regular clove smoker until Tuesday’s ban. This is confirmed by Danielle Shroyer, an Emergent Village board member from Dallas, “many young women felt the emerging church was a ‘boy’s club’ when they just smoked cigars. In fact, cloves were brought in by the earliest group of Emergent leaders, known as the group of 20, as a way to be more egalitarian and inclusive. Without cloves, we would not be here today and conversation would have only been about coffee and candles.”

Dr. Len Sweet, one of the earliest proponents of what is now the emerging church conversation tells us that the importance of clove cigarettes to movement cannot be overestimated. According to Dr. Sweet, “Cloves are an integral part of the Emerging Church conversation. They are expensive, which lowers the chance of their usage becoming habit forming. They smell nice and niceness is important to everyone in Emergent. Also, there has been no proof that children are enslaved in the production of cloves and they are smoked by the cool nonChristian kids in town, so they can be used for evangelism, or so they tell their parents. This is of EPIC importance to a new generation of Jesus followers.”

However, not all Christians think the popularity of clove cigarettes has been good for Christianity. Dr. Ted Stetzler of the Southern Baptist Convention says that the utilization of clove cigarettes are a marker of the more Liberal strains of the emerging church conversation. He is hopeful that their ban will be one step towards the reintegration of Emergent Village and its followers into the mainstream of Evangelical Christianity. “While the use of tobacco products is not as important to the SBC as our bans on homosexuality, alcohol, speaking in tongues or friendship with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, we see that it can be a gateway towards apostasy, except in tobacco producing states. Of course, cloves are not from those states, so we consider them on our list of things you can’t do, which is pretty extensive and growing daily.”

No one is sure where the conversation is headed. Some are angry at the Obama administration, but they will not go on record and risk excommunication. Most are unsure that it can continue without a smoke-able product that is acceptable across the board. Some futurists believe that the advent of clove flavored cigars will be the savior of the movement. While others think people should just quit complaining and take up smoking cigarettes. Says Jeff Gentry of Boston, “stop whining and grab a carton of Marlboro Lights along with some Big Red and chew it while smoking…it’ll give you the same effect.”

Rick Bennett, Tampa

-no one listed here said anything I have attributed to them. If you want me to change your name, let me know.

- by the way, I am an agnostic when it comes to the ban. I don't smoke (asthma), but don't like people telling me I can't.

________________________________________

update to original story-

When going to press, I was unable to attain quotes from a few of my desired sources. My calls have been returned...

A spokesman for Pastor Mark Driscoll of mega-church, Mars Hill in Seattle disputes the assessment that clove cigarettes are a sign of liberal emergent theology. While disagreeing with emerging Christians on theological and cultural issues, "Rev. Driscoll applauds the behaviors that set emerging Christians apart from its backwards predecessors. Beer, tobacco, profanity, gambling (on male sports only) and fighting are perfectly acceptable behaviors for the Christian male, in fact Jesus engaged in all of them. However, cloves are not wrong because they are cloves. Cloves are wrong because they are gay cigarettes."

While disapproving of Driscoll's language and characterization of Jesus' actions, author and pastor John Piper agreed with Driscoll's assessment of clove cigarettes, adding, "this is another indication of God's displeasure with the emerging church and its atonement theory, let alone its embrace of homosexuality. God is gently rebuking these young Christians by taking their cigarettes."

Rob Bell could not be contacted for this story. Apparently, he is writing a drama in which Jesus is a clove smoking girly man that loves everyone and judges no one. At least that is what the blogs are saying.


24 comments:

Pastor Tom said...

This is freakin' hilarious! I love it! Thanks Rick!

joshua said...

EPIC!! haha, that was too much for me...

jon said...

I'm offended that you did not quote (or even misquote) me on this snarky (yet hilarious) post as I am personally responsible for shortening my life and the lives of many other close friends in my decade of clove evangelism. Years of listening to countless people tell me "I haven't smoked one of those since high school" warrants me to some inclusion on this satire as one of your close, die-hard clove smoking comrades. I'm so mad I'm going to rebel safely by smoking a clove right now.

Rick said...

funny thing is the quote I attribute to Tripp Fuller was yours. When I reread it, I felt it had some sort of theologian jargon so I switched it up and gave him the quote.

My bad for not giving it to you in the end.

jon said...

ok, I'll take that.

Matt Nightingale said...

This is amazing. I confess to literally gasping as I heard this news on the radio on Tuesday. So funny... I shall miss my cloves.

Christian said...

Sitting outside a Jason's deli in Raleigh with the shakes
looking to score some cloves. Hit me up if you gave a supplier. Let's keep the conversation going!

C said...

We all know how effective prohibition was. This is ridiculous and has me riled to say the least.

A buddy of mine sent me a link to a shirt someone whipped up on the matter:

http://www.zazzle.com/remember_the_clove_tshirt-235546584694177419

Irritable said...

Brilliant!

Makeesha said...

HA!

For the record, I smoked cloves before emergent even came onto the scene.

Also fyi, you can still buy djarum blacks (my personal fav.) they're just repackaged and calling them cigars or some such nonsense. I hear they're not as good (inside info from my neighborhood smoke shop guy) but still available.

g13 said...

cloves ARE gay and lights shouldn't be the only thing we smoke.

tripp fuller said...

it is good to know that I get attributed theological jargon. of course i am a very big cigar fan and when I lived in North Carolina our cohort was known for having double digit cigar, pipe, and clove smokers in action. i guess that is to be expected when you live in Winston Salem.

Anonymous said...

I am seriously worried about acid cigars by drew estates........ please Lord not those. very funny Mr Rick. savio

John Sobert Sylvest said...

As an Emergent Irish Catholic, I haven't the foggiest notion what this clover stuff is all about but I can assure you of this much ... a ban on shamrocks will never ... oh uh ... cloves, you say ... WTF? [1]


1) F = Finnegan

tmamone said...

Hahaha, I love it! Reminds me of Lark News.

Jeff Kursonis said...

Wow Rick, extremely funny and insightful. I loved the caricatures but it didn't relate to me emotionally about the cloves at all because in NYC we're actually cool and not wannabe cool...I actually heard that most smokers of clove cigarettes resulted from the gateway experience of reading Relevant magazine.

g13 said...

Isn't Relevant that mag that is printed down on west 6th street?

the holly said...

needed to laugh out loud at the office this am. thanks!

Kevin said...

Coldplay. *snort*

Funny sure is funny sometimes.

K

Rebecca said...

This is HILARIOUS.

And the clove ban makes me angry.

:)

I found your blog by way of Jon Herr's Facebook profile. Yay for social networking!

Rebecca said...

I left the above comment.

sara said...

For those who are interested in a grassroots movement to repeal the ban, please help us spread the word!

Legalize Kretek on Facebook
Legalize Kretek on LiveJournal

g13 said...

sara your comment is either dripping with irony or downright tone deaf.

let's see...

damn, it's the latter.

Anonymous said...

go to regulations.gov and protest the ban